For seven years, Scheana Shay has been one of the most divisive characters on Vanderpump Rules, Bravo’s reality show about the hot, troubled staff at Lisa Vanderpump’s Sexy Unique Restaurant, SUR, in West Hollywood.
When she first appeared on the show’s premiere in 2013, she was the new girl at SUR, fighting to secure her space in the cast amid Stassi’s constant bullying. Now, almost a decade later, she’s the only original cast member still waitressing at the restaurant (the rest of the original cast has moved on to buying houses in the Valley, and fighting about event planning), and she’s taken on Stassi’s role as the alpha female there, stirring up drama with the new cast members. Does Scheana deserve credit for singlehandedly keeping Vanderpump Rules afloat? Or do she and the show need to move on? Two Cut writers discuss.
Madeleine Aggeler, senior writer: Sarah, the idea for this conversation came up because you recently offered a passionate defense of Scheana during a meeting. Can you make your case again here?
Sarah Spellings, fashion writer: The center is not holding for Vanderpump Rules. And amid the chaos, there is one person who is doing the most (as per usual) to keep the show afloat and semi-cohesive. And that is Scheana Shay. Scheana is the reason VPR is a show. She was the one who inserted herself into the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills universe by having an affair with Brandi’s then-husband, Eddie Cibrian. The premise for season one is the fallout from that feud. It’s the umbilical cord between the two shows. Currently, she is the only of the OG cast members who seems to be aware that this show is still her job. Scheana has never gotten her due, and she deserves some credit.
She has always been kind of outcast for trying too hard to fit in, but now that the show is in its twilight years, she seems to be the one who is fighting the hardest to make it continue to work. (Whether the show should still work seven years in is a different story, but she deserves more credit than she’s getting.)
Madeleine: Even though I love it, I think we can agree the show should probably die. It’s so weak right now because it is trying to combine the old cast with this new crew at SUR, and Scheana is the physical embodiment of this fraying cord between the two. To survive, I think VPR needs to either say, Fuck it, and get a whole new cast (as Below Deck does with different seasons) or just focus on the old cast, and make it a new show about them settling into their lives. But actually, that show would be very bleak, and I hate the idea, and I’m sorry for bringing it up.
Sarah: Yes, please, as little about Brittany and Jax’s doomed wedding as possible. So right off the bat, as a Taurus, I’m inclined to be on Scheana’s side. But she’s really carrying the show on her back this season. I was listening to Sexy Unique Podcast, who talked about this and are on my side on this Scheana debate, and it’s insane that she’s still working at SUR to be some kind of bridge between the old and new cast. She’s still wearing her SUR uniform!
Madeleine: It is really difficult for me to watch her try to bully the new SURver, Dayna, the way Stassi once bullied her.
Sarah: I guess there’s two ways to look at it. Either she’s finally getting a chance to be queen bee at SUR, or she’s sacrificing herself in order to bridge the two casts. I’m inclined to believe the latter because she’s friendly enough with the other cast members her own age to be on screen enough.
Madeleine: I just want Scheana to want more for herself.
Sarah: Ugh, all I want is for Scheana to have more for herself!! I want her to have someone who wants to receive an Apple Watch.
Madeleine: Let’s talk about that Apple Watch.
Sarah: Yes, the Apple Watch she gave to a newbie cast member as a romantic gift, only to be entirely ghosted by him. It’s peak Scheana. Maddie, if I made an obscure Glee reference … that probably would be ill-advised, yes?
Madeleine: Yes, but I think you should do it anyway.
Sarah: So to reference another show that should have died much sooner than it did, Scheana is to VPR what Rachel Berry is to Glee. She tries too hard, and, importantly, she woos with gifts. Scheana giving the guy whose name I refuse to learn an Apple Watch is Rachel giving Mr. Shu a blue tie with gold stars. I fully believe Scheana giving him an Apple Watch has the same emotional weight as when I give someone a compliment.
Madeleine: Scheana giving someone an Apple Watch is the equivalent of most people saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes – an almost involuntary kindness.
Madeleine: I will say this for Scheana, that Apple Watch is the only reason I’m still watching this season. I don’t like or understand it, and I need to know everything about it.
Sarah: So if the watch is the only reason you’re watching the show… isn’t that… admission that Scheana deserves some credit for keeping the show going? What makes Scheana a bit insufferable is, at present, the raison d’etre for the show.
Madeleine: The show in general is a little too sad for me now. In the earlier seasons, the whole cast (except for Jax, I guess) was young enough that you could laugh off their constant alcohol consumption and emotional issues as the follies of youth, but in the later seasons it’s been like, Oh no… This is something you maybe need to address.
Sarah: I guess when I watch the show, I’m hoping for them to revert back to their old messy ways. I would rather watch deleted scenes from the first four seasons rather than pretend to care about who is getting which West Elm chaise lounge or be depressed about the Jax Brittany nuptials. I can’t think too, too hard about Scheana’s current situation. But if I don’t think about it too hard, I like it. And I appreciate her for giving me some of that season 1 vibes.
Madeleine: I just wanna know more about the Apple Watch.